The South Tongu Chairman of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) Mr. Elorm Golo backs the call for teachers strike over 20% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).
Speaking to media on Tuesday, 12th July, 2022, Mr. Elorm Golo said, in the year 2021, government agreed with the Teacher Unions on salary increment of 4% 2021 and 7% 2022 respectively.
He explained that, though, the Unions accepted the meager salary increment in the past, the economy situations currently cannot just allow teachers to leave comfortably and an honourable life.
Defending the position of the Teacher Unions, he said, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for teachers to survive in this economic hardship, adding that, it is appropriate the government finds another way to meet teachers, at a point to better their life and alleviate the hardship and burden on the teachers.
He justified that, the call for 20% COLA has been there for long, even though the current inflation rate is higher above the 20% COLA the Unions are demanding from government.
“It is just right for government to meet Teacher Unions to agree on the 20% COLA to meet the needs of teachers so that, we can also get back to the classroom.”
Speaking on different views of critics that, the strike is violating the right of students, he said, “we all have right, as workers, we have right to fair treatment by the employer.”
“The children equally have right to be educated and be giving quality teaching and learning at their respective schools. We as teachers are very committed to that course, but the teacher needs to take care of him/herself to do a sound teaching. If the one who will deliver the curriculum in the classroom is not of sound mind, obviously, it will affect teaching and learning.” Mr. Elorm Golo explained.
According to him, to a larger extend, it is in the right perspective to ask for what is due us so that, our teachers can go back to the classroom in a very comfortable manner to deliver effective teaching and learning. It’s important to embark on this stay off of work to enable the employer address our concerns.
He again said, naysayers who are criticizing teachers for being paid salaries during Covid-19 era are losing the argument. According to him, it not only teachers that were at home during the Covid-19 pandemic era. Other workers were equally at home.
He noted that, even at home, some teachers were equally attending to the needs of their students. It cannot be said that, teachers were at home. Such argument and accusations are simply not fair to teachers.
“If our national leadership engages government and the decision is favorable to everyone, we will get back to the classroom, aside that, the strike continues. I am sure if the decision meets the requirements of teachers, they will return to the classroom. All we want is something to cushion us. The hardship is becoming very difficult to bare. Teachers are the managers of the classroom and they know how to handle the lost times.” Mr. Golo said.
Addressing challenges of Teachers in deprived areas, he said, in the hard to reach communities where there’s no accommodation, teachers struggle everyday to deliver their responsibility.
In the conditions of service, it is agreed that, incentives must be given to teachers in the hard to reach communities, that has not been done. There are lot of things on the table although teachers are not making noise on them, but the Unions want to take them one after the other.
“Most teachers teaching in the hard to reach communities go through hell before reaching school to teach. It’s the responsibility of the employer to make a clear determination on what is a hard to reach community, so that, when the teacher is posted to such a community, he/she knows that, such is a hard to reach community which merit benefits or incentives.”
“COLA is the necessary demand now. You take salary, go to the market ones and come back to square zero as if you have not been paid at all.”
Mr. Golo said, even teachers who applied for Study Leave with Pay are confused as to whether they meet the criteria for selection or not since they can’t clearly define the communities as to whether they are urban or rural or remote areas. GNAT is pushing hard for the employer to come out clearly on hard to reach communities, to clear doubts and curiosity on the minds of teachers.
Addressing non availability of teaching and learning materials, the district GNAT chairman said, truthfully, the curriculum has been rollout. People may argue that, the Resource Packs are enough materials for the teacher to teach, but, that will not be complete. Textbooks are very critical components together with other logistics that are needed for effective teaching and learning.
He therefore calls on the government to get the textbooks for teachers to effectively deliver the curriculum since teaching and learning materials are not available.
“If you take the curriculum alone, you might be able to do something but, that will not be in-depth enough, though the teacher is expected to go look for information online and research.
Mr. Elorm Golo used the opportunity to urge teachers to ensure that, whatever information that has been sent across advising us to stay off school activities, teachers must comply.
He added that, there are few teachers with personal challenges in South Tongu that will need the education office consideration, but, he believes the South Tongu GES Director will always be available to assist them for such issues to be resolved to teachers.